Catalonia has already received 1,200 refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, according to the Catalan minister for feminisms and equality, Tania Verge. Most of these have connected with relatives and friends already living in Catalonia. In addition, the minister explained that, beyond the macro-centres that the Spanish state announced yesterday, the Catalan government is preparing 2,000 residential places, which include not only residence but also psychological and legal support, health coverage and schooling needs for refugees. On the other hand, the government made an appeal to Catalans to channel humanitarian aid to Ukraine through the organizations already working on the ground, which are the best in terms of knowing the real needs and the logistics of how to get the material to where it is required.
Verge recalled that Ukrainian citizens now have protection within the Schengen space, and that most of those arriving are women with their children and have family links in Catalonia, whose Ukrainian community represents 21% of the total population of Ukraine citizens in Spain. In addition, the minister explained that the macro-centre announced by the Spanish executive for Barcelona is planned to accommodate 400 people upon their arrival, and that as well, the Generalitat government is preparing contingency plans throughout Catalonia for 2,000 residential places, which will not simply mean beds, but rather a much broader range of assistance as well, including schooling for children, healthcare card, psychological support, and legal help in the procedures required to formalize the temporary reception.
The government has carried out an inventory process to find out the availability of accommodation places and the minister explained that her department is also receiving offers of space from individuals. She requested that anyone wanting to offer such help should do so the 012 line or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well, the government spokesperson, Patrícia Plaja, referred to the solidarity initiatives that are underway, sending help from Catalonia to Ukraine, and she advised that the collection of materials in Catalonia to then be transported to the other end of Europe is not the best option, that there is a need to understand "that the needs for assistance will continue over time and that the organizations working on the ground [in Ukraine] are those that have most capacity to detect the needs of refugees and get the most necessary help to them". She recalled that the Catalan government website has information on the ONGs and multilateral groups working on the ground.
As well, the government spokesperson confirmed the message that the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, will not attend the summit of Spanish autonomous presidents that prime minister Pedro Sánchez has called, after the invasion of Ukraine caused the postponement of the original date on February 28th. Plaja stated that there is no evidence that the agenda of the meeting has changed and, therefore, the government does not consider the presence of Aragonese necessary.